65°F

Looking for something? Start here!

To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Looking for something? Start here!

The cost of maintaining rapid social change

Despite Trump taking office as president, we have seen a continuation of the rapid social change that has been quite apparent since the Obama administration. The gay rights movement, universal healthcare, rights for transgender individuals and more mainstream discussion surrounding equal pay were all developments which took place in a relatively short span of years. However, many of those whose views could not keep up with social standards found themselves ushered more and more into an increasingly polarizing, right-leaning standpoint. The election of Trump sent a very transparent message to America. That message, as I interpret it, was that such quick social reform left behind a substantial and now passionate population of Americans. “Make America Great Again,” sounds, to me, like a plea for a return to the familiar.

The predominant liberal response to this now mainstream political slogan resembles a justification for the value of social change over the familiar. The familiar, the left argues, neglects the historically neglected, and social change is necessary until injustice is eliminated.

I believe that both sides are aware of the fact that a world in which injustice is truly eliminated is one that might not even be fathomable, let alone achievable. But the left argues that the implausibility of an injustice-free world is reason for the necessity of an omnitemporal push for social development while the right cites it as justification for defeatism. But regardless of how both sides perceive this futility, Trump’s election demonstrates a prevailing emotion of many Americans and the effects of a polarized society.

The left finds itself in a predicament at this juncture. Social reform is necessary for those who are underrepresented, yet when it is achieved in a radical and expedited fashion, it stirs up an equal and opposite level of backlash from the right. How will efficient social change be achieved while so many are threatened by that change?

I argue the answer to this question lies in approaching social change from a more collaborative perspective. Yes, when it comes to social development, the focus should ideally be on those for whom the social development is intended to help. Social change is a topic on which people get very rightfully passionate. It involves confronting the daily struggles of those who have been wronged by a historically unjust system. The discussion surrounding change, as a result, is not always cordial. This, along with their socio-political perspective, makes the right generally progress-averse.

Harkening back to President Trump, the current administration is a perfect example of what harmful byproducts come from exclusionary social reform. While raising our standards as a society has allowed for a much more nuanced collective understanding of the problems that many minority groups face, it has also contributed to a movement which gave rise to Trump and which legitimized the backwards and, in many cases, hateful views he represents.

As in any political discussion, there is no perfect answer. However, accommodating the worries of the right by being open and collaborative in the way we go about social reform will prevent truly radical perspectives from dominating conversation and tempering our forward development. It sacrifices some of the swiftness of our social reform but aggregates our viewpoints, making our collective attitudes more conducive to change. This may not be the most just solution for the groups that need the system to be reformed, but it may be the most practical solution for negotiating the needs of the oppressed in democracy. It speaks to the intrinsic benefits and problems with our system that both the just and the unjust must compromise with each other.

Get Our Stories Sent To Your Inbox

Skip to content